God inspired David to write Psalm 23, which is essentially a collection of convictions, clear parallels from his experience as a shepherd. They began as personal truths God spoke directly to his heart. Perhaps the first time he heard them, they unfolded something like this:
“David, if you surrender your life to me, I’ll always guide you. I know that sounds scary, but don’t worry—you won’t ever leave behind something you truly need. In fact, I’ll make sure you have time to rest, feed, drink, and find restoration. Things will get difficult, but all my paths for you are designed to help you grow and become more like Jesus, more of who I created you to be. Always remember, especially when the path becomes dark, confusing, or painful, that I’m strategically leading you and I never leave your side. I have what it takes to protect you and I’ll even arrange for the most delectable blessings right in the middle of the most difficult trials—even when you face the legions of hell themselves. I’ll fill you with my Spirit, and pour my life into you and keep on pouring—never stopping—so that you have more than you need and more than enough to share. You’ll overflow with my goodness and love wherever you go, leaving a glistening trail of virtue and fruit that will point people to Jesus. And best of all, never forget where all this is going. Your destiny is to spend the rest of eternity with me, living as one of my children enjoying all the rights and privileges of my house.”
Wow, huh? And notice that faith is about relationship, not religion; rhythm, not routine. If it were all about discipline & routine, Psalm 23 would reflect that belief and read something like this:
“The LORD has given me clear biblical rules and instructions to follow through life no matter what. Sure, it costs me, but God wants me to do my daily devotions and discipline myself to keep up the routine faithfully, without deviation, without fail. As the saying goes, if I read my Bible and pray every day I will grow, grow, grow. He leads me in paths of moral rectitude because that’s how good Christians are supposed to act. Even when I experience hard times I won’t lose my focus because I have Bible verses on every imaginable subject replaying in my head all the time. Besides, I’d never turn away because then God’s justice would require him to withdraw his favor from my life. When the enemy attacks me, I grit my teeth and hold on for dear life because spiritual warfare is a regular part of my existence. I have to up the ante, try harder, and make this work. God won’t do it for me. My cup is empty, but that’s good, because the most spiritual people are the ones who thirst the most ravenously. Goodness and love are rare commodities, so while I want to share the wealth, I need to hold on to what I’ve got. After all, I’ve earned it. And when I get to heaven, there’ll be treasure and crowns to show for all my faithfulness.”
Yuck. But which one better describes your faith?